In developing a research topic, students should identify the questions or areas that most interest or intrigue them, reflect upon what areas of scholarly inquiry they are willing to devote a significant amount of time to, and consider what they are trying to accomplish with research.
Whether a student chooses to participate in an existing faculty project or develop an independent research project, a student should have a genuine commitment to exploring the topic and expanding our knowledge.
One of the student researcher’s most crucial tasks is identifying a faculty mentor who can guide the student through the initial stages and serve as a resource and sounding board throughout the process. One’s Faculty Mentor should possess specific expertise in the topic to be studied as well as a commitment to help guide the student.
An excellent way to determine what type of project is feasible for an undergraduate to complete is to view the Featured Projects on this site. You may also wish to examine Penn’s student research journals related to your field, which contain the work of Penn students. CURF has hard copies of many of these student research journals in our main office in the ARCH.
Lectures by Penn faculty and visiting faculty, research seminars and roundtable discussions, and other presentations in relevant departments also reveal the range of research possibilities, while introducing student researchers to the faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students conducting research in your field. While these events are valuable to any student exploring research, students considering graduate study should make sure to attend a variety of these events.